It’s a little known fact that Westminster Council did yet another shady deal behind the taxpayer’s back and sold off the Dolphin Square complex to a private equity firm.
The property’s management was taken over by the Dolphin Square Charitable Foundation.
At the time of the deal, the late Simon “Dandy” Milton hailed it as a “win-win” scenario for WC as the foundation was obliged to:
” provide affordable housing in Westminster, or exceptionally elsewhere in London with the City Council’s consent, for Westminster’s key workers and those in housing need”.
The council also received £50 million from the deal.
According to this report in LGCPLUS:
“One of the biggest charitable donations ever made in social housing has today given the Dolphin Square Charitable Foundation an£80m fund to provide housing for Westminster residents and key workers.
Following today’s completion of the sale of leasehold interests in the Dolphin Square residential complex by Dolphin Square Trust and Westminster City Council, an£80m gift has been made to the Dolphin Square Charitable Foundation today. The Foundation may also receive further money taking the fund to over £100m.
The foundation’s aim is to provide affordable housing in Westminster, or exceptionally elsewhere in London with the City Council’s consent, for Westminster’s key workers and those in housing need.
Westminster City Council also receives a capital receipt of£50m from the sale.
The foundation has been given wide powers to invest, buy, sell, rent, lease, grant loans and make grants in order to achieve its charitable aims. It will not manage homes directly but will work with existing organisations such as housing associations in the social housing sector.
The city council and the existing Dolphin Square Trust have nominated one board member each, with the remainder coming from a range of backgrounds such as registered social landlords, key worker employers and other expert backgrounds.
While the charity is independent it must have regard to the city council’s needs for social and affordable housing for households on low incomes and key workers. It is also expected to take into account the work of Westminster’s independent Housing Commission, chaired by Lord Best, director of Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which is due to report in July 2006.
Westminster City Council’s leader, Simon Milton said that ‘the provision of good quality affordable housing is one of the biggest concerns of our residents in Westminster. The setting up of the new Dolphin Square Charity Foundation will help provide much needed affordable housing for our residents over years to come. This, combined with the long term security of tenure that we have negotiated for current Dolphin Square residents, justifies Westminster’s and the Dolphin Square Trust’s approach to the sale of the leasehold interests.’
Westminster’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Angela Harvey, said the payment provided a huge opportunity for the provision of housing.
‘The foundation is an independent charity, committed to the provision of decent, affordable housing for Westminster people within Westminster.’ she said.
‘I am confident that the board, whose members are drawn from the key public services and the property world, will ensure the monies are well invested to make a real impact on the supply of affordable housing in Westminster.
‘At the same time, the independent Westminster Housing Commission is providing original thinking on housing and, this together with the Foundation gives Westminster new opportunities in the provision of housing for our residents.’
The chair of the Dolphin Square Charitable Foundation, Ian Henderson, added, ‘This money provides a wonderful opportunity to establish a charity which will have an impact in Westminster long into the future.
‘Housing is one of the biggest challenges facing urban areas like Westminster and the foundation will dedicate itself to ensuring that it is a challenge we are able to meet.’
The board of the new charitable foundation is as follows:
Chair: Ian Henderson Chair,(Quintain Estates and Development PLC) Company Secretary: Rodney Brooke, (Dolphin Square Trust nominee) Grahame Hindes: (Chief Executive Octavia Housing with Care) Catherine Longworth: (Board Member, Westminster Primary Care Trust) Colin Redman: (Director of trusts, Grosvenor Estates) Anu Vedi: (Chief Executive, Genesis Housing Group) Rachel Whittaker: (Board Member, Metropolitan Police Authority) Rosemary Westbrook: (Director of Housing, Westminster City Council) Andrew Whitley: (Board Member of CityWest Homes)
The city council set up the Dolphin Square Trust to run the properties and sold a sub lease to the foundation at the same price it had paid for the superior leasehold interest.”
There were now going to be lot’s and lots of new homes built for those in need in Westminster with the £100 million held by the Trust.
But what’s this?
If you look closely at the accounts of the Dolphin Square Foundation you’ll be most surprised to find that instead of spending any money on the homeless, they’ve actually been sitting on reserves of over £110 million since 2008.
This is an absolute bloody scandal when you consider the high-need for housing in Westminster and the original remit of the Foundation to provide homes.
How very uncharitable of them.